President Obama Visits Ethiopia’s Faffa Food Share Company, Highlighting Innovative Alliance with Partners in Food Solutions and TechnoServe

U.S. president lauds partnerships working to advance goals to reduce hunger, poverty

Minneapolis, M.N. — As part of the first visit by a sitting U.S. president to Ethiopia, President Obama visited the Ethiopian food company, Faffa Food Share today, highlighting a unique public-private partnership that promotes nutrition and food security in Africa. The Partners in Food Solutions (PFS) and TechnoServe alliance has helped Faffa Foods and hundreds of other African food companies to improve the nutrition, safety and affordability of their food by providing top industry expertise from global food companies General Mills, Cargill, Royal DSM and Bühler.

Chronic food insecurity and malnutrition are serious concerns in Ethiopia, where two of five children do not receive critical nutrients to support growth. While the country’s economy is based largely on agriculture, millions of people require humanitarian assistance to survive. Making food more readily available, nutritious and affordable helps improve the lives of children and families and supports economic development.

In 2009, General Mills partnered with TechnoServe, a nonprofit organization that develops business solutions to poverty by linking people to information, capital and markets. Together, they developed an initiative to link the technical and business expertise of General Mills employees with small and growing food processors in sub-Saharan Africa, helping those companies produce locally sourced, nutritious, and safe food at affordable prices for both food aid and local retail markets.

The pioneering model initiated by General Mills led to the formation of Partners in Food Solutions, a consortium of world-class companies that now includes General Mills, Cargill, Royal DSM of the Netherlands and Switzerland-based Bühler. With support from the Office of United States Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, this alliance has grown to assist more than 700 food companies in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia, providing markets for more than 829,000 smallholder farmers, reaching nearly 5 million people.

In November 2012, USAID sponsored the African Alliance for Improved Food Processing (AAIFP) in partnership with PFS and TechnoServe. The aim of this three-year program is to increase the quality and competitiveness of the Ethiopian food processing sector and expanding the availability of affordable and nutritious foods. It provides technical assistance to medium and large commercial millers, producers of fortified blended foods and flours, bakeries, and pasta manufacturers. More than 100 PFS volunteers have assisted 20 Ethiopian food processors on 72 projects during the last three years, and delivered 12 multi-day training sessions to 700 participants working within the food sector. AAIFP efforts to promote agriculture-related economic growth and improved nutrition, especially among vulnerable populations, support the objectives of the Feed the Future initiative.

Recognizing the remarkable success and progress toward a more sustainable food supply and healthier children, U.S. President Barack Obama is touring the Faffa Food Share Company, the leading supplier of baby food for children over the age of six months in Ethiopia.  Faffa is one of the companies working with PFS and TechnoServe to help improve product quality and production efficiencies and is supported by USAID through his Feed the Future initiative, which has helped facilitate partnerships to enable increased production of affordable nutritious foods.

“We are honored to host the first visit by a sitting U.S. President to Ethiopia,” said Zeko Kassim, Faffa Food Share CEO.  “From the beginning of the company, we have tried to fight the debilitating effects of malnutrition on Ethiopian children by producing low-cost, high-protein weaning food and supporting nutrition for children and families, so we are fundamentally aligned with President Obama’s Feed the Future Initiative.  Our partnership with USAID, PFS and TechnoServe is helping to substantially improve our quality and boost our growth.”

Volunteer experts working through PFS share their business and technology expertise with African processors like Faffa to help increase food safety, packaging, processing and marketing. The innovative partnership is providing sustainable solutions for the production and distribution of affordable, nutritious food for families, while also growing markets for African farmers.

For instance, due to seasonal supply and demand, one of Faffa’s processing lines has typically been idle for several months each year. Faffa leaders are working with PFS to identify and add new products that will help make more effective use of existing equipment. Other improvements facilitated by PFS food industry experts (volunteers) include making the Faffa facility more energy-efficient; updating manufacturing processes such as extrusion and drying, and increasing the quality of products such as cornflakes and other breakfast cereals.

“We know that improvements in the food-processing sector have the greatest multiplier effect throughout the local and regional economy,” said Jeff Dykstra, co-founder and CEO, Partners in Food Solutions. “We focus on companies like Faffa that create markets for smallholder farmers and have a big impact on well-being by producing safer, more nutritious, more affordable food for consumers.  Moreover, we are leveraging $2 for every $1 of U.S. taxpayer investment in Ethiopia.”

“This is an excellent example of how the public and private sectors can come together to support development,” said Will Warshauer, President and CEO of TechnoServe. “Knowledge transfer is a powerful tool that has helped this partnership deliver significant economic and nutritional impact. The expert assistance of volunteers from leading food enterprises enables these African companies to build on this sense of achievement and go from strength to strength long into the future.”

In late August 2014, four U.S. senators visited the same Faffa facility to better understand application of U.S. taxpayer dollars in Feed the Future and USAID-supported nutrition and agricultural programs in Africa. They included senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI).

“I had the chance to tour a company helped by Partners in Food Solutions in Ethiopia and see first-hand their work to increase food security and nutrition throughout Africa,” said Sen. Klobuchar. “By utilizing the expertise of great Minnesota companies like General Mills and Cargill, Partners in Food Solutions is an example of the type of public-private partnerships that can strengthen communities across the globe.”

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About Faffa Food Share Company

Faffa Food Share Company is a food processing pioneer in Ethiopia. It was established in 1962 as an Ethio-Swedish joint venture with the objective of reducing risk of malnutrition among children in Ethiopia by producing low-cost, high-protein weaning food. Faffa is the largest supplier of baby food for Ethiopian children over the age of six months.

About Partners in Food Solutions

Partners in Food Solutions (PFS) is a partnership that aggregates, mobilizes and remotely transfers employee expertise from world-class companies — General Mills, Cargill, Royal DSM and Bühler — to small and growing food companies in Africa. Its goals are to improve the ability of those companies to produce more high-quality, nutritious and safe food at affordable prices, and to increase market demand for crops from smallholder farmers. PFS collaborates closely with TechnoServe and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative.

About TechnoServe

TechnoServe is a nonprofit organization that develops business solutions to poverty. It works with enterprising men and women in 30 developing countries to build competitive farms, businesses and industries. By linking people to information, capital and markets, it helps them create lasting prosperity for their families and communities. With millions of people positively impacted by its work since 1968, TechnoServe believes in the power of private enterprise to transform lives.

 

For more information, please contact:

Susan Langer, Partners in Food Solutions
Tel: 715-977-1222; susan@partnersinfoodsolutions.com

Nicholas Rosen, TechnoServe
Tel: 202-719-1327; email: media@technoserve.org